Some people are very opposed to convenience foods such as Hamburger Helper. While I suppose in general I have turned into such a person, I do think that those types of products have their place. Obviously they are convenient, but they can also be a starting point for someone who knows absolutely nothing about cooking to slowly learning that they are capable of making something edible. I certainly ate my fair share of Hamburger Helper growing up and during college and you know, it really doesn’t taste all that bad. My culinary interests clearly have grown far beyond the boxed food realm, but every once in a while I crave the old childhood favorite. Now that I tend to avoid most processed foods though, I opt for this homemade version instead. With multi-grain pasta, ground turkey and homemade taco seasoning, this is a much healthier copycat that tastes better than the boxed version. I made a few minor changes to add a bit more flavor, and I also reduced the liquid a bit to thicken the sauce. This is a great meal that is bound to be a crowd-pleaser.
My hope is to inspire you to be fearless in the kitchen, to try new things, to take the time to make things the homemade way and most importantly, to have fun doing it!
Creamy Taco Mac
1¼ lbs. ground turkey
8 oz. dry pasta shapes
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained
4 tbsp. taco seasoning
3 oz. cream cheese
½ cup sour cream
Salt and pepper
Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook pasta according to the package directions. Drain, reserving ½ cup of pasta water. Set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet or sauté pan, cook the ground turkey over medium-high heat until no longer pink. A few minutes before the turkey is cooked through, add the chopped onion to the skillet. Once the turkey is cooked through, mix in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Mix in the diced tomatoes and taco seasoning and let simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Stir in the cooked pasta, cream cheese, sour cream and reserved pasta water, and continue stirring until the cream cheese is melted and the sauce is well blended. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer over medium-low heat 3-5 minutes to reduce the sauce a bit. Remove from the heat and top with shredded cheddar cheese, if desired.